Chandani - The Daughter of the Elephant Whisperer

52' or 90' / HD

The 16-year-old Chandani has a burning desire: She wants to follow in her father's footsteps and become a mahout. A Mahout takes care of elephants. Chandani's father Sunamabanda is one of the most experienced mahouts in Sri Lanka and chief-mahout in the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. He does not have a son to which he could pass on the family knowledge from many generations.

Against the other mahouts' will, he decides to give his daughter a chance. He gives her responsibility for the young elephant Kandula. By working with this young elephant every day, Chandani must demonstrate that she is serious about her wish to become a mahout, and that she is willing to learn the complicated tasks a mahout must know. But because Chandani is the first girl in a male profession, everyone doubts her abilities and the other mahouts strongly oppose her plans.

Outside her family the wildlife ranger Mohammed becomes the only one to support her. He takes her into the jungle, shows her the world of elephants in the wilderness. On one of these trips, Mohammed and her save a little elephant baby from its certain death. 

Strengthened by this experience and her mentor's support, she makes tremendous progress in the work with ,her' little elephant Kandula, and develops a real emotional attachment to this animal. So she succeeds in persuading her father of her talent. As the first woman in Sri Lanka's history, Chandani gains the permission to take part in the ceremonial and traditional elephant Perahera. She and the festively decorated Kandula participate in this religious elephant procession with pride, along with those who always doubted that she would ever become a mahout.

However, shortly thereafter, there is another test for Chandani. Kandula is now old enough to be released into the wild. Chandani is very sad, but she has learnt that the wilderness is the world into which her 'little' friend really belongs.

With tears in her eyes, she lets him go. But Chandani - the first female mahout in Sri Lanka's history - knows that there are many new tasks and adventures waiting for her.

 

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Producer: Fruitmarket Kultur & Medien, Tradewind Pictures
Production years: 2009-2010
Broadcasters: WDR, arte, YLE
Languages: English, German

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